Question about Zen School

Question about Zen School

Postby Wesley1982 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:46 am

Do you have to be invited to learn & study Zen or can you do that on your own? thanks.
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Indrajala » Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:47 am

You can do it on your own. That's why Soto Shu on their official site provides instructions with colourful illustrations:

http://www.sotozen-net.or.jp/propagation/zazentop/saho
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Huifeng » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:15 am

Wesley1982 wrote:Do you have to be invited to learn & study Zen or can you do that on your own? thanks.


Depends on what you mean by "Zen", perhaps.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Wesley1982 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:54 am

Huifeng wrote:Depends on what you mean by "Zen", perhaps.


I "think" its the practice of meditation and mental focus of the mind & body into a spiritual balance.
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Jikan » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:34 pm

There are many capable teachers. Find one you can work with, practice without holding back, and you'll be on your way.
Thanks to the help of generous sponsors (most of them from DharmaWheel), I'm doing a Vajra Armor (Dorje Kotrab) self-retreat this summer. May the merit be yours!
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby MuMun » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:15 pm

For me it began with reading books. (There are lists of recommended books on this web site so I won't bother offering my own list.) Some of these books included basic instructions on how to start meditating. I tried that on my own for a while.

Eventually, I thought it would be useful to find a good community to practice with. I wasn't necessarily looking for a teacher, but some solidarity with others doing the practice including people who had been doing it for a long time. The first couple of places I visited were okay, but they didn't "click." Then I read a book by and about one particular teacher and that was sort of an "aha." I wanted to go find that guy. A week later, I was packing up and moving to be closer to this guy's center. He wasn't even there anymore -- he had gone back to Korea. But I met his older students, a good place and good people to practice with, and practiced with a teacher. I found all of this very helpful.

Practicing and learning on your own is possible. Easier, I think, for people who have established a strong practice, but anyone can do it. There are caveats to the "go it alone" strategy. It is usually hard, particularly for a beginner, to keep a consistent sitting practice going all by oneself. Another challenge is keeping all the stuff you might read, and all the ideas that pop into the consciousness, in a balanced perspective. It's easy to start believing the thoughts we make up about our experience, and a good community including good mentors help us handle that stuff clearly.

Be choosy! If it is possible where you live, visit different places, observe the people practicing there as much if not more than the teacher (if there is one). I tend to think you can tell a lot by how the students interact. Do they welcome you? Are they forthcoming about answering your questions? How does the organization raise funds? Do they charge a lot of money, do they live on donations, or what? Your gut will tell you. It's also a good idea to use Google. Check out the place, check out their teacher. Don't be satisfied with just a nice looking website. Caveat Zentor!

Best of luck. The decision to start a practice is a wonderful and momentous decision. Let us know what you find!
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Wesley1982 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:29 pm

I do think it will be interesting to try and incorporate the art of Zen buddha into my Christian prayer life.
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Huifeng » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:59 am

Wesley1982 wrote:
Huifeng wrote:Depends on what you mean by "Zen", perhaps.


I "think" its the practice of meditation and mental focus of the mind & body into a spiritual balance.


If that is what you mean by Zen in your question, then you can approach it through whatever avenue you like.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Wesley1982 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:26 am

Does a Zen Master have a dojo or particular place for ritual meditation in Japanese architecture?
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby shel » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:15 am

Yes it's called a zendo.
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Huifeng » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:59 am

Wesley1982 wrote:Does a Zen Master have a dojo or particular place for ritual meditation in Japanese architecture?


While by using the terms "Zen Master" and "dojo", no doubt most will be thinking of a teacher from the specific Japanese Zen school tradition, practicing meditation in a specifically Zen school location called a "dojo"...

For myself, because I tend to think about the Dharma probably more through Chinese (and Sanskrit) than English, that "Zen Master" --> 禪師 is really almost any "meditation specialist", and that "dojo" --> 道場 is the term that is now given to almost any Buddhist monastery or temple, but really means the site in which one attains awakening (bodhi-maṇḍa).

Rephrasing:
Q: Does a meditation specialist have a place of awakening or particular place for ritual meditation ...?
A: Wherever one meditates, that is their place of awakening.

See Vimalakirti sutra: "The straight mind is the place of awakening. ..." etc.
《維摩詰所說經》卷1〈4 菩薩品〉:「我問:『道場者何所是?』答曰:『直心是道場...」(CBETA, T14, no. 475, p. 542, c14-p. 543, a7)

But, as is probably well known on this Forum already, my perspective on "Zen" is not the usual Western (American?) one.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Quiet Heart » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:08 am

Wesley1982 wrote:Do you have to be invited to learn & study Zen or can you do that on your own? thanks.

:smile:
That is something that generates a lot of debate among those who "study Zen"....whatever that term means in reality.
There are some people who say you can't be a "real" Zen student without joining an organised group and having a teacher.
That's their opinion....but I respectfully disagree.
I always have, and probably always will, be doing Zen without joining anything or anyone.
That's just my nature. I will admit , however, that outside of an organized group; you need a lot of motivation and self-discipline to practice Zen...especially as in my case I don't think of my "practice" of Zen as a thing to do apart from "real life"...but instead Zen is my real life.
I wouldn't necessarily advocate that practice for everybody.
There was a British rock group called "Dire Straits".
In one of there songs called "Private Investigations", they have the line:
"This is a private investigation, not a public enquirey".
That's how I approach Zen.
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Quiet Heart » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:15 am

Wesley1982 wrote:I do think it will be interesting to try and incorporate the art of Zen buddha into my Christian prayer life.

:shrug:
If you're interested do some research on the net about Thomas Merton.
Trappist monk I believe...but I might be wrong however on that.
Well known in Zen circles...now long deceased however.
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Wesley1982 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:35 am

At some point, do you begin by "training your thoughts'"? . .So it becomes a daily function?..
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Astus » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:42 am

Huifeng wrote:But, as is probably well known on this Forum already, my perspective on "Zen" is not the usual Western (American?) one.


Things get changed in translation, like the word Zen.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Megha » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:55 pm

Rinzai Zen requires a lot of "hands on" training, which can't really be replicated by solitary practice. Also, any practice, no matter how sincerely applied, will inevitably be liable to "I" bias. Being naturally lop-sided we can't really see our own "blind spots", and that's why a teacher is necessary to expose them. This is often an uncomfortable experience, hence Master Hakuin's statement that “Should you desire the great tranquillity, prepare to sweat white beads.” Without a teacher we will just not be aware of these blind spots, with the end result that the training "cuts no ice".
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby booker » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:19 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:I do think it will be interesting to try and incorporate the art of Zen buddha into my Christian prayer life.


http://www.emptybell.org/articles/links.html
"Be Buddhist or be Buddha"
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby pueraeternus » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:30 pm

Huifeng wrote:
But, as is probably well known on this Forum already, my perspective on "Zen" is not the usual Western (American?) one.

~~ Huifeng


We should move towards identifying Zen as strictly the Japanese tradition, and use Chan for the Chinese Chan tradition, and Soen for the Korean one. The practices are distinct enough to warrant it. I have the impression that in the academic world, this is already the case?
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby anjali » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:24 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:I do think it will be interesting to try and incorporate the art of Zen buddha into my Christian prayer life.


If you are interested in the interface between Zen and Christianity, take a look at these works by William Johnston:

The Mirror Mind: Zen-Christian Dialogue
Christian Zen: A Way of Meditation

From a brief author bio: "William Johnston, a Jesuit missionary living in Japan, has extensive knowledge both of Western spirituality and mysticism and also, through his experiences in Japan, of Eastern spirituality and mysticism, especially Zen Buddhism."
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Re: Question about Zen School

Postby Huifeng » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:58 am

pueraeternus wrote:
Huifeng wrote:
But, as is probably well known on this Forum already, my perspective on "Zen" is not the usual Western (American?) one.

~~ Huifeng


We should move towards identifying Zen as strictly the Japanese tradition, and use Chan for the Chinese Chan tradition, and Soen for the Korean one. The practices are distinct enough to warrant it. I have the impression that in the academic world, this is already the case?


While I always try to use "Chan" with respect to the Chinese tradition(s), and this is fairly the norm in academia, the realm of online internet forums is something else...

~~ Huifeng
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